April 28, 2010

My apologies to the cardinal family

This morning the male cardinal was in plain view and probably has been around all the time his mate has been on their nest. So, I take back my suspicions that he was a deadbeat or unfaithful or --worst of all--dead at the claws of Whiz the cat.

The prospective father's job, I've learned, is to guard the territory and bring an occasional treat to his mate. He does this stealthily because today is the first time we've seen him.

Now--to wait for the eggs to hatch and watch the next goings-on outside the kitchen window!

April 27, 2010

Cardinal Mother

A female cardinal has built a nest in the holly tree outside our kitchen window. She rarely leaves her post and then only briefly to fetch a seed or two from one of our feeders. When the weather turned cold again, she snuggled in to protect her eggs.

photo by Peter Doyle

We wonder where the male is. Did the female choose a deadbeat spouse that can't be bothered sharing the parental role? Or did her mate take off with a younger redhead? There's a strong possibility that he met with the backyard equivalent of drive-by violence. A neighborhood cat named Whiz seems especially fond of stalking the feeders hoping for a bite of bird. We've found more than one dead cardinal or robin in the yard.

Whatever the reason for her mate's absence, the prospective mother keeps her eggs warm and struggles to maintain her energy with sunflower seeds and suet. She'll need all the energy she can muster once those chicks hatch and start clamoring for food, food, glorious food.

I check on her every morning and throughout the day and whisper encouragement through the closed window.

April 15, 2010

Mt. Everest at 13?

I just heard a piece on NPR about a 13-year-old boy who's planning to climb to the summit of Mt. Everest, thus becoming the youngest to do so. Having spent several years teaching 13-year-old males, I have concerns about judgment, decision-making abilities, etc., which certainly must figure into the formula for successful mountain-climbing. I also don't understand the hurry to do something so monumental. If you scale Everest at 13, what would be next for you? What would you line up to surpass the thrill of that accomplishment?

I just don't get the drive to be the youngest--or the oldest, as is now the case for me--to do something. I think back to when I was 13 (yes, I can still remember back that far)--a freshman in high school, struggling to unlock the mysteries of Latin grammar, hold down my scholarship job in the school library and have a good time with my family and friends. My goals were pretty humble and always attainable and I set them mostly for myself. I can't think of anyone my age back then who aspired to anything as grand as scaling Mt. Everest.

I hope that Jordan stays safe and healthy and happy. I also hope that, if he reaches his goal, that this will not set off a wave of 12-year-olds trying to break his record.

Maybe kids should just enjoy life in the valley and save climbing mammoth mountains for later.